Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Burning Man Does Not Suck

I am no longer a virgin. I rolled around making dust angels, had playa rubbed all over my head and banged a gong to celebrate it.  I even have pictures.

Dust angels.
Playa dust rubbed all over head.
Banging the gong to celebrate losing virginity.
Carolynn, Rich and I discussing whether to kill the dust woman.
I have returned home from my first Burning Man.  Based on those opening few pictures, you may be asking why in the name of Dirk Digler would anybody want to spend eight days in a dusty, windy, hot, dirty, dry, skin cracking, desolate, out of the way shit hole in the Black Rock Desert of Bumblefuck Nevada?

The answer is that it transforms to Black Rock City once per year because crazy people like me come from all over the world to spend eight days in this beautiful, heavenly, unexplainable, love-filled, happy, dusty, windy, hot, dirty, dry, skin cracking, desolate, out of the way shit hole in Bumblefuck Nevada.

Re-read that a few times and I swear on the grave of your great-great-grandmother’s dog that it makes sense. 

It might be impossible to fully explain what Burning Man is and what it does.  I think the reason is because every person gets something from it that is unique to them down to their very soul.  This could be a life changing experience or perhaps it’s a brief moment that happened on a sweltering day in the middle of the week (like it did for me). 

Either way, I doubt that anyone comes back from Burning Man saying it was just a big party.  You can have a big party in your backyard.  You have to pay mentally and with your body to attend Burning Man.  The reward is worth every dirt booger, dusty lung, cracked skin, dirty haired moment.

There is one giant commonality that I’m willing to bet everyone who has attended would agree is the best thing about Burning Man.

It’s not the art cars, even though they are fricking cool.
This was our car, built by Ian and his AZ crew: Movement of Jah People.
Best bike rack ever!
El Pulpo - this sucker spits out fire - way cool at night!

Pulling up to the VW led to an impromptu dance party in the middle of an intersection.
Discofish, complete with pole and bar inside.

Art cars waiting for a burn.

Golden Gate
It’s not the art itself, even though it is all so fricking cool.
Anybody can climb to the top of this.
I'm not bullshitting you, this is cool stuff.

Even the bathrooms could be fun.
Case in point: Best port-a-potty ever!!

Back to works of art - my bowling form!
Half buried ship.  One of the coolest things out there.  Tons of details inside.
Pier attached to the ship above.
You could climb to the top of this thing to press a button that shot out fire.  I did it twelve times I think.

This is made out of wood.  This was the only 'big' ego I met at Burning Man.

Inside the tower of the Man.

The temple.  Photos don't do it justice.

I watched and listened to this thing teach yoga.  I have film.

I'm not sure this is art, but it sure looked like fun.

We had a full moon, including a blue moon.  How perfect is that?

This thing was my landmark for finding my way back to camp.

This is a horrible picture, but its a movie theater in the deep playa.  Somebody gave me a Snickers bar and it was heaven.
Yes, it felt like a different planet.  There is a dude in that outfit.
Well, I think the playa used to be a lake.

One of the best seats in the house.
It isn’t camp after camp of themes and giving, even though they are all so fricking cool.
Gotta love the pink camp.  The quote says, "love more, fear less. float more, steer less."  Right?

Oasis in the middle of nowhere.  Of course!

This camp gave me orange sorbet. 

This camp gave massages. That is MoMo having her feet violated by tall bearded man.

It’s not even the burns, of which there are many, including art, the man and the temple; even though they are all so fricking cool.

Burning Wall Street

Right before it fell.
Besides the awesome moon we had every night, the burning reminds me of the fabulous sunsets.

We also stayed up all night one night to watch this sucker rise.

Is it the people?  Sort of, since they are all so fricking cool, especially my camp mates.
My buddy Rich who got run over by a car earlier this year while on his bike.  His playa name is Crutch.

Bonnie and Clyde who?
Jody's shit-eating happy grin never left her face all week.

Hey, it was Tutu Tuesday.  I am man enough to do it.   The better looking kid is MoMo.

Somehow this didn't seem all that odd at the time.  My fave pic of Carolynn.

Just two dudes (Ian and Rich) going on a bike ride.  In tutus.  One with crutches strapped on. Completely normal.

A common look.

Jeremy with his freaky eyeballs stuck on his googles, Rich and MoMo.

Carolynn, Rich and Misti.

Me and Ian.  He was the captain of awesomeness.  Even if he only had an "okay" time.

Thanks to Ian and MoMo for making me go to Burning Man.

Carolynn sure loves her costumes.

Our whole gang.  AZ and CO rock!
The answer to the one giant commonality lies in the experience and from where it is born.  It isn’t driven from the desire to be entertained, party, meet people, have sex or admire art.  You can do all those things easily at home.  The answer is that it comes from the heart of which is filled with love.  Shut up; I’m not even a hippy.  Nor do I ever do drugs.  This truly comes from within the most powerful force of mankind.  Love.  And with love you will have happiness.  You can love yourself.  Don’t mistake this concept for meaning you have to find a significant other.  I found this quote on somebody else’s Facebook page and I don’t know who said it, but I’m going to repeat it here:

To me, this is the root of Burning Man.  Before I had playa dust rubbed in my face, I had two veteran burners welcome me and give me hugs.  Not man-hugs where you sort of bump shoulders and manage to create space, but rather full-out heart on heart hugs with strong arms and long holds.  The kind you give loved ones that you haven’t seen in five years.  And yet these are total strangers.

I quickly learned that greeting people with these hugs and smiles was standard operating procedure.  It didn’t matter if it was a guy, a gal, old or young or even midgets!  I kid you not.  I actually hugged these two and practically peed in my pants with excitement (I have a serious midget problem).
I could hug them both at the same time so easily!!
What if in the real world we were all nice to each other from the start?  We all gave each other the benefit of the doubt and treated each other with love and respect?  What if you hugged the barista in the morning before you ordered your venti latte with room?  It feels really good to be around people that are like-minded because it comes from their heart and soul. 

I think that is the common theme of Burning Man.  Love is happiness and there was a lot of that going around.  I’m not talking about sex (for a change).  Keep this on the up and up, yo.

And then there are those unique moments that every individual has.  Some might be life changing, others might be fleeting or perhaps provide a glimpse of what is possible and there; if you open your mind and heart. 

My moment hit and when it did; it hit hard.  It seemed to come out of nowhere because it got me near the end of the week and at a point where we were all dancing by the art car with dozens of other people.  MoMo happened to be standing next to me.  We just held on to each other and didn’t let go.  She had been there and she said she’d wait for me. 

I don’t know how long it was, probably just a couple minutes, but it felt like forever.   There were many things in my head, heart, body and soul that just rushed at me in this crazy unbelievable place that staggered me.  I held on to MoMo and hoped I wasn’t squeezing her too hard because I wasn’t in control of anything for just a moment.  Plus I’m twice her size.

And then I breathed. 


I didn’t see that coming.  I didn’t know that was buried inside me. 

And I don’t know that I accomplished anything or released anything that changes my life.  But it was good. 

I already feel like one of the luckiest and happiest people on this planet.  I have a great life.  I even look good in disco pants!

So what did I get out of Burning Man?  Besides a rockin' great time with awesome people? Burning Man gave me the ability to give to myself from a level I had buried so far down, I don't think I knew it was there.  Burning Man helped me give myself an even greater life that continues to live by my heart and soul.

Another quote I love that I can't attribute to anyone: "The core of a man's soul comes from new experiences."  Thanks to Rich, Carolynn, MoMo, Ian, Jeremy, Mistie, Jody, Erica, all the other burners and Burning Man 2012.  My soul is stronger than ever.  


  1. hahaha, you are so cute! will never see the world the same again,....thanks for coming to see us, come home next year!love and fire,dr deb

  2. I am a wee bit jealous!

    So wonderful to see that it was a great experience for you. I love seeing photos from Burning Man. It looks like a great free thinking spiritual experience.

  3. I've always wanted to go to Burning Man, but I never have. I envy you having friends who'll go with you and have a wild good time.

  4. That's pretty cool. It seems like a lot of people take the "burning" part too literally as a lot of the sculptures you described ended with "...and it spit out fire." But I get what you mean about the collectiveness of people and the general vibe of the place. Where else would it be a fun thing to have someone rub essentially dirt on your head?

  5. There is not enough Windex in the world to make it okay for me to go to a windy, sand-blown dessert, but you make it sound pretty sweet. I love it. And I'm going to be a little friendlier and kinder to everyone today because of it. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Brett- You fully participated, heart and soul, mind and body. You gifted yourself with openness and love.

    Your "moment" surprised me but only by it's timing. I was wholly there for you only because I know when it hits you cannot stop it. Nor should you even try. That is the beauty of Burning Man. You never know how and when you will have an amazing experience. My soul movement followed yours later with Joel and the full moon beaming down on me.

    I too find myself wanting to hug random people just for little things like even saying 'hi'.

    Why are people so afraid to connect? IDK.

    I hope you decide to go again. Of course, we will be there next year getting dusty, driving around, gifting, hugging, swigging pickle backs,talking to random people who wander into our camp late at night, watching the sunrise, boozing it up, yelling "Titties", dancing in the dust listening to reggae music, wearing tutu's, drying tears and connecting with people we will never forget.

    Keep burning all year! Love you. and thank you for your friendship.


  7. This was my first year at burning man too but from the moment I hit the playa I knew it was my home. I was born to love and never have I loved so openly, so unabashedly, so purely as I did those 8 days in the desert. I'm crashing hard being back in the default world no longer completely surrounded by people willing to love themselves and all others without fear. I have so many incredible moments to remember out there. I can't wait to return home again. Until then I'm going to keep spreading as much love and joy as I can everywhere I go. It's the only way to stay true to myself.

  8. Looks like an insanity revival! Glad you enjoyed it!

  9. I must be the only person on the face of the earth who has never heard of Burning Man but you have totally inspired me. It looks AMAZING!!!!!

  10. From what you've described I think I genuinely NEED to go to Burning Man. I wonder if Burning Man could become a sort of annual blogger meet-up? Either way, I need to go.

  11. @terry: I owe you a playa hug. They are way better than Denver hugs.

    @drdeb: I think you are gonna be stuck with me every year. Hopefully I'll see you on the playa next year.

    @linda: It is indeed a free thinking spiritual experience. And more. I think everyone gets something special out of it. You'd love it.

    @epicfail: Then you should go. Your friends are already there, waiting for you.

    @pickleope: There were a bunch of art cars that spewed fire. After one of the burns, four fire based cars put on an impromptu show. It was amazing.

    @mandy: Haha, I can totally see you running around the playa (in a tutu) carrying your windex like a six-shooter. Yeah, as much as you'd love love love the spiritual and creative side of it, I'm not seeing you living there for a week!

    @momo: love you.

    @jluvs2luv: I totally get it. Amazing feeling to have now, right? I'm stoked you had such a great experience and look forward to seeing you at home next year.

    @eva: I can't remember how many times I said, "What is going on here?!" Crazy yes, but only the good kind!!

    @JKIRF: Okay, we have step one covered - you are aware. Now how do we get you out on the playa?

    @memphissteve: I think everyone needs to go to Burning Man. But yes, from what I know of you through reading you for so long, you would get soooo much out of it. There is no reason why you can't go next year.

  12. Matey, I been burning 12 years, and this post just made me cry. Again. We didn't hang much, but I look forward to fixing that next year.
    - Jake

  13. Sweet baby jesus that looks like one big old anxiety attack of bugs and dust to me, but it looks like you had a kick ass time. I almost wanted to be there too. Almost. Like for an hour maybe. Drunk.

  14. I think I know what you're talking about. And even though I don't think Burning Man is something I could let myself do, I would love to see all that stuff in person. I'm sure I'd appreciate it on a major level. I let myself do some pretty awesome things, believe it or not. That love you're talking about, that feeling of huge openness, I get it.

    I knew you'd have a good time. I'm glad you did!

  15. Epic! I think this post even made me get a little teary...or maybe I just got a little playa dust in my eyes through the computer screen...hmmmm...

    This is definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for letting me live vicariously this time around!

  16. @jake: It was all so new, overwhelmingly awesome, stimulating and spiritual to the point that I focused more on me (and my camp mates) than many others. I definitely need to mingle more next year. You and the others that we hung out with the most were totally cool and good peeps. I really do look forward to more quality time in 2013. See you at home!!

    @amelia: Great news - no bugs!! Nothing really lives out there which is why it's kinda hard for people too!! Drunk? Well, duh!!

    @steph: I know you are absolutely one of those people that would get a lot out of it, but I also agree that eight days of living in it might be a bit much for you. But its worth it. I think if you really wanted to do it, you would overcome the shitty living conditions.

    @dogsdontpurr: I love it when you come out of nowhere with comments. I have always enjoyed bantering with you. Glad my recap moved you from afar. Hopefully BM moves up your bucketlist.

  17. I already texted you what I thought of this post and there's no way I'm putting it in print on your blog. I've a reputation to keep, ya know?
    I'm so glad you guys made the time to stop in Salt Lake, thanks for the kick in the ass, glad you made it back alive, and I'll plan on seeing you again on your way through next year.
    And these pictures? I can't get over this shit. This is seriously amazing. My favorite by far is the lone dude in the desert with the light coming in off the left. Just creepy but serene at the same time.

  18. You just described something VERY similar to growing up in Hawaii. I still hold people "longer" than I should.. or maybe I should, but it's beyond their comfort level.

    The energy, spirit and love you speak? I've been there - a long time ago with drugs, but now.. Love is the drug. Music. And people. The energy and freedom to live in the NOW and in the TRUTH is love.

    I'm marinating in Bliss for you.

    Thanks for taking us on this journey - even though - it's not the same as being there. Your words and photos painted a memorable picture. If only from the other side of the lens.

    This is me. Hugging you. x

  19. I'm still waiting for Brett Does Burning Man the X rated Vlog version. You know how I feel about your trip. Just rereading this made my heart smile for you.

  20. @vapidvixen: You have exceptional taste in breakfast diners and internet friends. Thanks for writing such a sweet blog. Clearly tequila makes you sentimental. Good to know for our big duel!

    @christine: We thought about having our theme as the Creepy Hug Camp. Maybe next year.

    @angie: No way am I creating a vlog. I'd probably cry - that is how awesome BM was. But I have lots of video I took while there. I have to edit and get something up, at least over on the FB. You will have to stick to your regular sources of porn though.

  21. Sounds brilliant, it's an event I'd love to attend.

    hugs x

  22. Well, sounds like you had fun in "Birmingham." Ya hippy. ;)
    Also? " why in the name of Dirk Digler " is my new favorite expression.

  23. Wait--how did you know the shitty living conditions would bother me? Also, I think I would take while to get over the cheesy and let myself loose.

  24. I have always wanted to go to Burning Man.

    AND now I REALLY want to go.

  25. Wow..way too much fun!
    Thanks for sharing. I have never been , but heard of this wild ride!

  26. @lulu: And there really aren't any creatures out there for you get all tangled up with in the desert. Other than two legged ones wearing either nothing or lots of fur and sparkles.

    @dawn@lightenup: I'm glad you like that one. Cool that you are the one to call it out. As for Birmingham, I'm going to do a slide show for my parents and the first five slides with of course be of Birmingham.

    @steph: Honestly, you could overcome both. It is amazing how instantly cheesy disappears. That's just it - there is no judging going on out there. It is all inclusive and so genuine that you fall right into it. And then suddenly you don't notice the harsh living conditions.

    @theempress: Well, what is stopping you? Start planning on it now! I'm happy to tell you all about it in detail if you are seriously interested.

    @mommarock; It's a ride that never stops. I'm still on it. That's how cool it is.

  27. I'm so happy that you had that moment in the desert in the dust. I'm glad that your heart didn't explode and that your mind popped back into your head, safely. Sounds like it was exactly the experience that you wanted and needed. It sounds beautiful.

  28. @Brett You are my regular source of porn. Stop frontin'.

  29. Sounds like you had a great time. I heard about burning man several years ago and have yet to make it there. One of these days... Maybe we can meet up when I finally do? That would be cool.

  30. @jellybean: It was magical without the tricks. All so real.

    @angie: I am good.

    @onebadpixie: Of course. Or anytime you pass thru Colorado.

  31. Classic adventure and well documented w some amazing pics and heartfelt commentary.

    Looking forward to attending in the future.

    I liken your experience to the native american's "vision quest", but instead of solitude, silence and the heat of a sweat lodge you found yourself amongst the masses, with sounds all around and the heat of the desert... classic brett!


  32. Burning Man sounds amazing! I found this post trolling for stories about BM. I've been wanting to go since I first heard about it at 16. It's my hope to finally cross it off of my bucket list this year.

    I'm planning it now, but the stars have to align proper, unfortunately.

    Glad you had a great time. I hope my first time will go well too.

    Have luck, love and tons of fun!
    -Mel AKA Aspiringtobesomeone

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